William Lacy Swing, director general of the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM), on Wednesday issued a personal plea to intervene to end the suffering of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
His plea came the day the IOM said more than 500,000 newly arrived Rohingya refugees are now living in dire conditions in Bangladesh's Cox Bazar region, reports Xinhua.
The speed and the magnitude of the influx since August 25, when tens of thousands of Rohingya began fleeing violence in Norther Rakhine State, Myanmar, has resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency, IOM said.
"The world has reacted with horror to the images of their flight, and the stories of murder, rape and arson brought from their still smoldering villages in North Rakhine state," said Lacy Smith, "But this horror will have to be matched by action on the part of the international community, if we are to avert a humanitarian disaster on both sides of the border."
He said that the IOM is appealing for 120 million US dollars between now and February 2018 to begin to address this humanitarian crisis.
Lacy Smith said that if IOM's appeal to the international community does not meet its target, "prospects for the refugees are dismal."
The money is desperately needed for shelter and non-food relief items, sanitation and head, he added.
Without the appeal, Lacy Smith said families would continue to suffer in the open or under inadequate plastic sheeting under daily, heavy rain, says the report in Xinhua.
"The lack of clean water and sanitation, which has already led to fecal contamination of water sources, will lead to outbreaks of water-borne diseases, including cholera," he said.
"Women who have suffered violent sexual assault will not get the vital, and often life-saving, care that they need. And a lack of protection will make the refugees -- particularly women and children -- targets for human traffickers," Lacy Smith said.